I had a nice piece of Chilean sea bass, a mild, firm-fleshed white fish, the other day, but it was a little odd-shaped and scrappy looking to serve whole, so I decided to whack it into bite-size chunks and come up with a dinner-in-a-dish pasta entree with it.

I took very loose inspiration from a Marcella Hazan fish-and-finocchio braise, although I doubt she'd recognize her original recipe, in which I changed just about everything except the fish. Still, it turned out quick and easy and very, very good.

Slice two good-size celery stalks (including the leaves) rather thin, and peel and slice one fat carrot. Slice two large garlic cloves paper-thin.

Skin 1 pound Chilean sea bass steak and cut it into 1-inch cubes, douse with a little lemon juice and set aside.

About 30 minutes before dinner, heat a little olive oil in a well-seasoned black-iron skillet (or you could use a nonstick sautee pan), and cook the sliced garlic with a shake of dried red-pepper flakes until they turn golden and aromatic. Add in the celery and carrots, toss-fry for a minute or two, then add a splash (about 1/4 cup) of water; reduce heat to very low and simmer covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it dries out. Add the fish cubes, stir once or twice, and increase heat to a low medium. Cover again and let cook for 5 or 10 minutes or until the fish is just done.

Meanwhile, boil water and cook enough ziti (or other short pasta of your choice) for two; since this is a hearty dish, I didn't overdo the pasta; about one cup of dry pasta was enough.

Time your cooking so the pasta and fish finish at about the same time; drain the pasta, dump it into the simmering fish and vegetables, mix together and serve.

The delicate flavor of the sea bass and the mixed vegetables made a very nice combination, and the dish managed to improve a very cheap Spanish white wine.